Rick Santorum slams JFK, emulates Pat Robertson
By David Horsey
February 28, 2012, 5:00 a.m.
Rick Santorum says JFK’s belief in the separation of church and state makes him want to throw up -- more evidence that he is the most socially conservative candidate to seek the Republican presidential nomination since televangelist Pat Robertson made his run in 1988.
The difference, this time, is that Santorum has a real chance to win. Just how strong his chance may be is something Robertson claims to know. He told his viewers on the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club" in January that God told him who would win the election. But he’s keeping it a secret.
"I think he showed me about the next president," Robertson said of the Almighty, "but I'm not supposed to talk about that, so I’ll leave you in the dark -- probably just as well -- but I think I know who it's going to be."
Robertson did go on to say what God told him would happen if President Obama is reelected: "Your country will be torn apart by internal stress. A house divided cannot stand. Your president holds a radical view of the direction of your country, which is at odds with the majority. ... This is a spiritual battle which can only be won by overwhelming prayer. The future of the world is at stake because, if America falls, there's no longer a strong champion of freedom and a champion of the oppressed in the world."
Worried that non-evangelical voters might be freaked out by such talk, Robertson has warned Republican candidates to avoid social issues. Nobody but Ron Paul has heeded that advice, though. Mitt Romney has offered up a paler version of Santorum's pro-life, anti-gay-marriage sanctimony. But no one can equal Santorum in that arena.
The former Pennsylvania senator has been speaking in the kind of apocalyptic terms that have long been the mainstay of Robertson’s highly politicized ministry. Santorum has not quite matched Robertson’s most provocative statements -- blaming the 9/11 attacks on pagans, abortionists, feminists and gays; calling Hurricane Katrina a punishment from God for America’s abortion policy; and predicting the world would end in the autumn of 1982 -- but he’s getting close.
In recent weeks, Santorum has echoed Robertson's belief that a second term for Obama would be calamitous for Americans, especially for people of faith. He has condemned secularism and talked about how the French revolutionaries' humanist philosophy inevitably led to the guillotine. He has warned Americans not to repeat the mistakes of the 1930s when the malevolence of Adolf Hitler was not taken seriously. He has insisted that "radical environmentalism" is a pseudo theology that displaces humans as the biblical stewards of the Earth.
And now he has twisted the meaning of John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech to conservative Protestant pastors. In that address, JFK defended the freedom of all Americans to hold fast to their religious beliefs and asserted the right of anyone, including a Catholic like Santorum, to be president. Kennedy never said he wanted to bar people of faith from the public square, yet Santorum has decided to pick a fight with the first-and-only Catholic president by falsely claiming that he did.
Recently, audio of a speech Santorum gave at Ave Maria University in 2008 has surfaced in which he told students that Satan is targeting the United States.
"This is not a political war at all," Santorum said. "This is not a cultural war. This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country -- the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age?"
Yes, Santorum and Robertson both equate the political struggle with a spiritual war, although Santorum always stops just a word or two short of stating outright that the president is on the side of Satan, Hitler and Robespierre. His implication is clear, however. In this spiritual war, the president is on the wrong side and a vote for him is a vote for a godless, secular America.
Right now, Santorum is appealing to a lot of people who see him as more genuine than Romney, more of a straight arrow than Newt Gingrich -- just a regular guy who believes in faith and family. Will they still love him when they discover he's as full of fevered ideas as kooky old Pat Robertson?